Monday, April 14, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 2)

It might be of interest to note that, in order to call Jeremiah to mind, Jesus quotes the from the eleventh verse of the seventh chapter.  He may have been able to quote from another portion of the section provided above, but He did not.  He references the portion of Jeremiah’s polemic that speaks of “robbers.”  The Greek word translated as “robber” in Matthew is “leston.”  Now this is not to be found in Matthew’s narrative, but in the Gospel of John the man named Barabbas is described as a “robber,” using a derivation of the same Greek word used by both Jesus and Jeremiah. 

Matthew merely mentions the fact that Barabbas was a “notorious prisoner.”  Presumably, the people in Jerusalem knew who and what he was.  According to Mark, Barabbas “had committed murder during an insurrection” (15:7), and Luke also mentions the insurrection and murder (23:19).  This is interesting, as the Greek term applied to Barabbas by the author of John, which is the same one that is directed to the Temple authorities by Jesus, carries with it the notion of insurrection and revolution---going well beyond simple thievery.  Little wonder then that Barabbas was, to use Matthew’s language, a notorious prisoner. 

It is appropriate to here marvel at the genius of the author, as ironically, through His triumphal entry, Jesus is stirring thoughts of an insurrection to be carried out against the Romans, whereas those that run the Temple are carrying out an insurrection against the very God that they believe is going to act to deliver them from the power of Rome.  Ultimately, as is well known, Barabbas, the one that seeks to participate in revolutionary activity that may have the effect of driving the Romans from Jerusalem and from Israel through armed conflict, is the man that is released rather than Jesus.  Also in a horrific ironic twist, eventually the people of Israel will undertake a violent resurrection against Rome that will result in the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem, so that the very place in which Jesus stands and speaks will be thrown down to the ground.      

Matthew is not the only Gospel in which Jesus words about the day and hour are reported.  Mark records these words as well.  In the thirteenth chapter Jesus is heard to say “But as for that day or hour no one knows it---neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son---except the Father” (13:32).  Without any intervening material such as that which is to be found in Matthew, Mark moves immediately to Jesus saying “Watch out!  Stay alert!  For you do not know when the time will come” (13:33). 

Luke presents a similar narrative to what is heard in both Matthew and Mark, though it has its own differences that are peculiar to Luke’s presentation of Israel’s Messiah.  Luke does not have Jesus offering an opinion on whether or not one can know the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man, but he does alludes to it when he writes “But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of the life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will overtake all who live on the face of the earth.  But stay alert at all time, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must happen, and to stand before the Son of Man” (21:34-36). 

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